For many years, I have facilitated the Caregiver Support Group at JFS. Support groups can be a wonderful thing with the right setting and the right combination of people.
The logistical part of the job can be stressful, including preparing a space, ordering food, and sending out meeting reminders. Personally, choosing food is the most stressful part for me. I worry if there will be enough, will I remember to prepare it kosher style, will it be the right temperature and will it taste good. Lucky for me, I have co-workers that are much more comfortable choosing food and often help me with planning.
We begin the group with introductions if we have new members and a review of the group rules including confidentiality. It is a safe place where caregivers can come together and share whatever is on their hearts and minds without judgement. The members share their stories, express all emotions including sadness and anger, ask questions, learn from, and support each other. As the facilitator, my job is to bring the people together and provide a safe place for them to be vulnerable to each other. I am often amazed at how much they have in common and the lack of the need to explain their feelings to others. There is an unspoken connection between them that is beautiful to watch. I love to sit back quietly and watch the magic between them. New friendships are formed through a support group, and it is true that one’s emotional load becomes lighter just by sharing with a friend. The Caregiver Group in particular, feels like a family. Facilitating support groups is one of the perks of my job and I wouldn’t trade it.
If you are interested in joining the JFS Caregiver or Grief Support group, contact Toni Jacobsen at 615-354-1672 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A new Grief Support Group is starting in August, and I would love to see you there.